December 14, 2012

Starry, Starry Night

Last night was the beginning of the Geminid meteor shower. I happened to be awake around 11:30 p.m., so I went out onto my back deck to see what there was to see. Our deck faces south, and Orion's Belt is easily found. Somewhere around the second star to the right was the Gemini constellation, from which the Geminid shower took its name.

For once, it was a crystal clear evening. Half the time you go out, and you can't see a damned thing. That night, the stars shimmered brightly against the darkness of the night sky. A steady point of light marked Jupiter, king of the planets, some say a star that never made it to the show.

I stared intently at the sky and stars, waiting for a meteor. It struck me that what I was seeing wasn't there any more. Rather, I was watching a tape-delayed presentation of events that unfolded millions of years in the past. I let my mind loose to wander in the immensity of a time and space in which we were less than the twinkle of a star.

My reverie was interrupted by a bright streak that arced across the sky, gone as quickly as it came. Falling stars, shooting stars, stars shooting, stars falling ... shooting ... falling ... bright ... shining .. beautiful ... gone.

The night sky watched, unmoved. What did it matter to them, timeless and old beyond our comprehension, these brief evanescent streaks? But they matter to us. Here in our time, our place, when the most we can hope for is a brief shining moment when we arc gracefully across the horizon before being lost in the darkness.

We are one with the shooting stars ... the falling stars ... bright ... shining ... beautiful ... gone.

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